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ANNOUNCEMENT: Curling Vines & Crimson Trades – Kellie Doherty

QSFer Kellie Doherty has a new ff fantasy romance (lesbian/bi) out, Broken Chronicles Book 2: “Curling Vines and Crimson Trades.”

Rare goods trader, Orenda Silverstone leads a happy life with her wife and friends. She’s an Elu—a race whose crafting is centered on protection—but her power is broken. Now, her sword is her strength. When her wife gets kidnapped and Orenda has to use her trading skills to complete some nearly impossible tasks to get her back, a good sword arm won’t be enough. Orenda’s time is rapidly coming to a close. She needs help.

But she’s been forced into silence. Two sun goddess worshippers, twins Lan and Lyra, decide to join Orenda’s quest in order to guard one of the rarer items to its destination. Orenda’s not sure she can turn her back on either one, but with no other options, she competes against the sunrises to complete her tasks before her wife is killed.

Then, the unthinkable happens. Orenda’s best friend, Jax, tries to kill her.Between racing against the coming dawns and battles at every turn, Orenda’s list now seems insurmountable. No longer certain of who is friend or foe, she must come up with a plan to save them all before the sun rises on her wife’s final day.

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Orenda Silverstone lounged on her tattered brown couch, reading about her next trading job in the eastern region. She yawned. The midday sun had crested the sky, well past any sane person’s bedtime, and Orenda wanted to go to sleep. A lock of bushy black hair curled in front of her eyes. She tucked the errant strands behind her ear. Concentrate, she ordered herself. Her next trade was going to be important: transporting jewelry custom made in her home city to the royals on the coastline. Nossilia prayed to her god of pathways by the bed. Her wife always took the full devotions time to communicate with her god, and Orenda respectfully waited for Noss to finish. The scent of their last meal, spicy stew, made Orenda’s mouth water.

“Please watch over us this day.” Orenda’s prayer to her moon goddess was quick, but she felt a cool tingle through her body in return. She smiled. Thank you. Aluriah was always with her, guiding her.

And warning her.

The tickling pooled at the back of her neck, and the hairs there rose. Someone is watching me. Orenda looked up from the page, scanning their humble home.

Daygems lit their one-room abode, making the pots on the nearby counter glow. Their bed took over one entire wall, and the open hearth dominated the other. The space was empty, save for them. Her gaze caught on the charcoal drawings of their joining day, of how happy they looked together and how worn the edges of the paper were. Yet Orenda still felt off.

She eyed the windows, wishing she could look outside, but they were shuttered against the daylight. Opening them now, during devotions, would be the highest disrespect for Noss and her god. Her wife was frightened of suncreatures, like the white-skinned wyverns with glowing red eyes that roamed the daylight. Those corrupted creatures grew larger than their natural counterparts, some as big as homes. So they kept their house closed to the sun, like most folk. Daylight was for sleeping anyway.

And sleep sounded so good. Rest clawed at her, pulling her to the bed. Orenda set down her trading log and yawned again. Something cracked just outside. Her gut twisted, and she rose. Perhaps it’s only my imagination. She straightened her blue sleeping tunic, worn from travel but not bad enough to toss. It covered her curves well enough, but if there was company… Her gaze went to her tan robe on the bed. A crunching noise came from outside. Footsteps? Who would visit us this time of day? Orenda headed for the door.

“What’s wrong?” Noss’ quiet voice stopped her. Noss’ long purple nightgown clung to her beautiful thick curves, her dark hair tucked back in a braid. Dark circles deepened her eyes. The long night’s work was getting to her. She’s tired.

“I thought I heard something.” Orenda gestured to the door. When fear flashed across Noss’ pale features, she continued, “But it’s probably just the day crowd.”

“Indeed.” Noss folded her green prayer throw and crawled into bed, clutching the multicolored comforter. “Come to bed, then.”

The day crowd. Folk who didn’t mind the sunlight or the dangers of the suncreatures. Their city housed many different people and teemed with activity both night and day. The high walls surrounding their city protected them from harm. Who else would it have been? The love painted so clearly on Noss’ features nudged Orenda’s worry away. She deactivated the daygem with a whispered word and slipped her hand into Noss’, allowing her wife to pull her onto their bed. Noss poked her in the side, drawing a laugh, and Orenda gathered Noss into her arms, kissing her plump cheek. Calmness infused her soul, as it always did when Noss was close.

A deafening crash followed by a cascade of splintering wood and glass disrupted the quiet moment. Orenda shot to her feet. Sunlight spilled inside like liquid fire, backlighting the figures that crawled inside. They carried curved bronze swords and wore long, hooded white robes. Orenda gasped. Ponuriah’s worshippers. Worshippers of the evil sun goddess, rival and sister of the moon goddess Orenda worshipped. Her followers were known to be malevolent, spreading bloody chaos in the name of their deity.

Five of them had just broken into Orenda’s home.

Noss screamed. Her eyes glowed blue, and, as her crafting took its toll on her body, a matching glowing wound inched its way open across her cheek. Dark, blue blood dripped down her skin. She winced. A bubble of cobalt energy burst from her, forming a wall and slamming the intruders away. Orenda’s fear turned to fury. She charged forward, heading for her own weapon. One intruder rose faster than the others, but Noss used her crafting again, and an azure wall pummeled the figure like a wave. Grabbing her sword, Orenda turned to the figures, weapon ready.

They attacked as one, but Orenda ducked, parried, and slashed, holding her ground between them and Noss. Anger boiled inside of her. She grabbed one of the intruders—a man with a black beard that nearly hid his wicked grin—and stabbed him in the stomach. His death groan fueled her.

A female with a scar across her neck got lucky, slicing Orenda’s arm. Sharp pain followed the blade as it bit into her skin. Orenda sidestepped, parrying the second sweeping arch of the woman’s blade to the wooden floor and kicking her in the side. A sickening crack sounded and the woman screamed. Orenda sliced her neck. The woman’s yell ceased. Orenda leapt back as third slash nicked her cheek, the attacker misjudging the distance between them. Fire burned under her eye, but she lashed out. How dare they come into my home.

Author Bio

Kellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. When she noticed that there wasn’t much positive queer representation in the science fiction and fantasy realms, she decided to create her own! Kellie’s work has been published in Image OutWrite 2019, Astral Waters Review, Life (as it) Happens, and Impact, among others. She’s currently working on a five-book adult fantasy series. The first book Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties (Desert Palm Press, March 2019) won a 2019 Rainbow Award. The second book Curling Vines & Crimson Trades launched on November 30, 2020, and an excerpt from Curling Vines won first place in an Alaska Writers Guild Fiction contest in 2020.

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